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Soon Draper will no longer be the largest city in Utah without a public secondary school.
Canyons School District broke ground last week on the site of a yet-to-be-named high school at 12887 S. 801 East, in a ceremony attended by about 200 people.
"For many of us, it's been a long time coming too long, in fact," said Sherril Taylor, vice president of the Canyons School Board. "I have no doubt that many of you wondered if this day would actually ever happen. But it's here."
It was a historic event for the young district, a groundbreaking for its first high school, which is scheduled to be ready for the 2013-14 school year.
School board member Paul McCarty raved about the 311,000-square-foot building's science labs.
"They are so advanced, in fact, that they have been built to accommodate future technological innovations that we anticipate to be developed and used in schools in the near future," McCarty said. "We're building for the future and preparing for the future."
The school, which will accommodate as many as 1,800 students, will also feature two-story academic classroom wings, a 120-seat lecture hall, a 1,200-seat auditorium, a 3,300-seat gym, two auxiliary gyms, a track and artificial-turf football field with seating for 3,500 home spectators and 1,200 visitors, eight tennis courts, a baseball and softball complex, and an expanded cafeteria and kitchen.
The school won't have Alta's maddening parking issues; there will be 1,200 parking spots.
McCarty praised the future school's "timeless architecture." He said the brick "little red, schoolhouse" exterior is a nod to the area's early pioneer heritage. The school's design aims to improve environmental quality with natural light streaming in through windows throughout the building.
"This is an incredibly exciting time, and we're thrilled to be here today to mark the official start of work on this project," said McCarty, who is also principal of John C. Fremont Elementary in Granite School District and an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University. "This is a vision we all share, and we thank you all for your support as we construct schools and build the future."
The school is being financed with a $250 million bond approved by voters last year. It is one of 13 projects the bond will fund.
The project's completion will coincide with Canyons' districtwide grade reconfiguration plan. In fall 2013, ninth-graders will begin attending high school, while middle schools will serve grades 6 through 8, and elementary schools will serve kindergarten through fifth grade.
"This new high school is poised to become the lifeblood of this city," McCarty said. "It truly will be the gathering place, our heritage place."
He asked the crowd, "Can you just see the Friday night lights every fall football season right behind me?"